Sunday, July 8, 2018

Eggplant and Coconut, A Simple Vegetarian Biryani.

   Alan has gone mainly vegetarian in his diet with the exception of some pescetarian choices so I've used this change of food policy around the house to move things more in the direction of how I eat. This has enabled me to take full advantage of all the goodies I'm growing in our garden. I love the idea that I can go out pick, and cook a lot of what we eat everyday. This has brought me back to nearly daily Indian dishes. Fish or even meat if served,  is not the star but rather a side player. A little bit  goes a long way.
   Since  we have always worked out of our home office, I like things that I can make ahead or that come together easy depending on what's available in the garden on any given day, which brings me to eggplants. Every year we grow a variety of eggplants from the large classic Italian, to Japanese, to the tiny Thai, and Indian finger eggplants. I thought a nice vegetarian biryani would be good so I looked to a traditional Kerala recipe of eggplant and coconut biryani or layered rice as it's is sometimes called.
Looking in the garden I thought my eggplants might not be ready yet so a trip to the farmers market might be needed, but I took a look and whoa!!! Eggplants had arrived!!!

I cut three Japanese eggplants of a pretty good size...

 ...some chilies, and mint.

 I wanted tomatoes but mine have not ripened yet. It's been a relatively cool Summer for us this year so all the vegetables are behind schedule. I had most of the basics for the dish so the shopping and prep was pretty easy.

Eggplant and Coconut Biryani

Here's What You Need:

2 or 3 Japanese Eggplants cut lengthwise and into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups of coconut milk (full fat)
1 and 1/4 cups of Basmati rice
1/2 cup of grated unsweetened coconut fresh or dried
1 cup of peas (fresh or frozen)
1 and 3/4 cups of water
5 thin round slices of ginger
1 onion chopped roughly
1 large shallot peeled and sliced thinly
1 to 3 chopped green serrano chilies (with seeds) depending on how hot you want this.
2  dried red chilies broken into pieces
1 large tomato chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 and 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbs lemon juice
# ztbs vegetable oil

Here's What To Do:

Rinse the Basmati rice and place it in 1 and 1/4 cup s of water to soak for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile put the coconut in a cast iron pan along with the dried red chilies and dry roast them until they are slightly golden. This takes just a couple of minutes so keep an eye out.

Take the toasted coconut and red chilies, and cool them a bit.
Slice the eggplants in half the long way and chunk them up into 1 inch pieces.

Place  the chopped serrano chilies, ginger slices, sliced shallot, and onion  in a food processor or blender.

Add the toasted coconut and dried red chilies...

,,,and grind into a paste.

Than add in the coriander, garam masala...

...and turmeric.

Blend again then put everything in a large skillet or kadhai along with 2 Tbs of vegetable oil and stir over medium heat until it colors. This takes about 5 minutes.

Add in the eggplants, half the salt...

...and 1/2 cup of the coconut milk.

Stir everything around.

Turn the heat up to high for about 3 minutes, then turn down to medium.
Cover the pan and cook until the eggplants have softened about 15 to 20 minutes.
Check in on things every now and then to make sure nothing is burning or sticking.
When the eggplants are soft move them to a bowl and set them aside.

In a large pot add 1 Tbs of vegetable oil.
When the poil is hot add in the tomato... and cilantro.

Cook and stir until most of the moisture from the tomato has evaporated.
Now, add the rice and the water it was soaking in...

...along with the rest of the salt, and the rest of the coconut milk.

Bring to  a boil over high heat than slap a cover on the pot and turn the heat way down to the lowest setting for about 10 minutes. We are not going to cook the rice all the way through as it is going to finish in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly grease an oven-proof dish. I usually use a clay pot but I used a pyrex casserole dish this time to get a good view of the biryani.

After the rice is cooked partly through (about 10 minutes) place half the semi cooked rice in the casserole dish.

Layer the defrosted or fresh peas on top of the rice.

Then add the eggplant mixture you've set aside. Layer the peas and eggplant together and mix them a bit.

Add the rest of the rice on top of that.

Then squeeze 3 Tbs of lemon juice over it all.

Cover the dish and place it in the oven.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
Take the dish out and uncover it.
Sprinkle the top with a dash more garam masala, and a sprinkling of more chopped cilantro and mint.

Then  dish it out. See the layers?

I served mine in clay mini biryani pots, with a bit of cooling  cumin raita and some flatbread.

Chapatti would be great with it also.

There it is a simple vegetarian lunch right out of the garden. This can  be made ahead and reheated later, or the next day.  Mellowing only makes it better. This recipe will feed between 4 and 6 people.




Sunday, June 24, 2018

Perfect for Meatless Monday: Masoor Dal With Vegetables.

   I haven't posted in a while, mainly because we were busy with work, and when not busy with work were consumed with all that is going on out in the world and somehow, recipes and food and cooking just didn't seem to fit in. I have been cooking a lot, I just haven't been writing or taking pictures of what I've been doing. I've also been busy easing Alan into eating more like me. Lots of vegetables, rice, dal, occasionally fish, no meat. So, one of the first things I served him was a dish I hadn't made in quite a while a hearty, meaty, meatless Indian classic dal recipe Masoor Dal with Yellow Squash. If you've never mad e Indian food before, this is a very simple thing to whip up and though I chose yellow squash, one can substitute any vegetable one might like, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, zucchini, potato. You get it, the sky's the limit.

Masoor dal  is the tiny salmon colored dal, that turns yellow when cooked . It's available at most markets.

The other ingredients are easy to find. The dish serves 6 to 8 people, can be made ahead, is a great go-along with Basmati rice for a filling meal, plus it's cheaper than dirt. What's not to like?

Masoor Dal With Squash


Here's What You Need:


2 cups masoor dal
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp salt
2 medium sized crooked neck yellow squash, washed and cut into rounds.
4 Tbs tamarind paste (or sub out lemon juice)
1/2 tsp sugar
3 Tbs vegetable oil or ghee
10 whoile black pepercorns
1/2 ttsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
10 fenugreek seeds
10 white urad dal pieces (optional)
1-3 whole small dried red peppers

Here's What To Do:


Wash and rinse dal
Place the dal in a pot with 6 cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil. If any dal scum boils up scrape it off with a slotted spoon, and discard it.

Add in the turmeric ...

...and cilantro.

Put a cover on the  pot and lower the heat.
Simmer the dal gently for about 1 and 1/2 hours.
Check it every half hour or so and give it a good stir.
When the dal is all cooked and tender add in the salt...

...the squash...

...the tamarind paste or lemon juice, and sugar.
cook another 15 minutes or until the vegetable is tender.

Now for the chaunk...the finishing touch of spice.
in a small skillet heat the 3 Tbs of oil. When the oil is hot add in peppercorns, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and urad dal if you are using it.

Finally add in the red peppers.

When the the cumin, fengreek seeds, and red peppers start to darken, and the mustard seeds pop, pour the contents of the skillet into the pot of dal. Stir the chaunk into the dal, cover the pot again and turn off the heat. You are ready to dish it up!

Sprinkle a bit more cilantro over the top and you are good to go. Lunch on the deck is served.

   This is a very mild dal and perfect for Meatless Monday meals. I serve it with rice, but if you eat meat it's still a good partner for anything on the table. Coming up next more Indian veg dishes and even some pastas and pizzas. Follow along on Twitter  @kathygori  

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Simple Lamb Curry With Coconut

   Sometimes, there are days when one wants just the simplest of lunches, something that can be made quickly, in one pot. I'm always looking for things I can whip up easily on week days when we're writing, and this lamb curry just fit the bill. The boneless lamb steaks were on sale at Whole Foods and I had a whole mess of "premade" Basmati rice in the fridge. Lunch that's cheap and utilizing left overs? What's not to like? When I say fast, I'm talking about an hour fast which is perfect for a weekday lunch. If you've got a pound of lamb, a can of coconut milk, and some Indian spices, you can make this dish easily.

Lamb Curry With Coconut Milk

Here's What You Need:

1 lb of boneless lamb steak cut into bite size pieces
2 Tbs coconut oil
4 dried red chilies
1 chopped shallot
1large onion chopped
2 and 1/2 tsps garam masala
1 tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
1 and 1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 and 1/2 tsp ghee...or extra coconut oil if you have no ghee
1 can of coconut milk
1 and 1/2 Tbs tomato paste
salt to taste
1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro

Here's What To Do:

Cut the meat into pieces.

Mix the chopped ginger, onion, red chilies, and shallot together.

Mix the fennel seed, turmeric, and garam masala together and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or kadhai. When the oil is hot, add the lamb and stir it around to lightly brown it.
Then add in the onion, chili, ginger, and shallot mixture.

Cook until the onion, ginger,  and shallot are slightly soft then turn the heat down to medium.
Add the garam masala, turmeric, fennel and ghee or extra coconut oil, and stir it into the lamb mixture.

Cook it for a few minutes until the spices turn aromatic.

Add in the coconut milk.

Stir it around...

...then add the salt to taste (I used 1 and 1/2 tsps)...

...and tomato paste.

Bring everything to a boil, then turn it all down to simmer, cover with a lid and let it gently cook for about 1 hour. Check it every now and then and give it a stir to make sure nothing is burning or sticking.
Chop some fresh cilantro for a garnish and serve it up!

I served this with an Indian cold rice salad, aka, curd rice...the recipe is here. Fast simple and hearty, it's a great lunch for 2 with leftovers, or four as a meal with sides.
Spring is really coming in with a bang here in Sonoma. The roses and blooming, my trees are loaded with cherries, both Bing and Ranier, and this weekend involves planting the vegetable garden for the summer season. Lot of recipes and lots more to come. Up next, a family style dessert you can just dig into...literally! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori 


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